Browse through our posted articles & news on executive higher education trends and happenings. Click on the heading tabs above to view the postings.
Several global brands nowadays have set up their offices in emerging growth-oriented countries as a way of penetrating the fast growing consumer markets there. The growth of multinational businesses in Asian, African and South American countries is strengthening the appeal for management professionals to gain experiential learning about these emerging economies. Factors such as high GDP growth and a growing middle class are all contributing conditions for the rapid growth of the buying power that Asia is seeing. As such, corporate executives essentially need to be brought up-to-date with on-going developments in these emerging markets, more especially if their company is doing business there or planning to expand in these areas.
Due to these changing trends in global business, most US business schools saw a downturn in applications, with more people applying to MBA programs in Asia. The US business schools saw a decline of applications, falling by 6.6% overall in 2018, while Asian business schools in China, India & Singapore over the past few years have seen a considerable rise in international MBA applicants, according to the GMAC Applicant Trends Survey—an 8.8% increase from 2017 to 2018 alone. This rises significantly to 15.4% increase when you look just at international students applying to Asian schools—more specifically those in China and Southeast Asia—while the US has seen a 10% drop in international applications.
To counter this regional shift in admissions, several US and European business schools have incorporated comprehensive global immersion modules in their executive management programs to provide an experiential learning for their students of the emerging economies. These global immersion modules, in the form of study tours, interactive sessions with regional corporate heads & executives and local industry visits, provide a much necessary plug-in for global executive management programs of the US & European based B-Schools by enhancing their competitiveness vis-a-vis the Asian B-Schools. Through global partnership networks, the top notch US & European based B-Schools are able to provide an enhanced international experience to their students by way of collaborative executive management programs with reputed international B-Schools on a global level, with the objective of encompassing the management trends of developed and emerging economies all around the world. A typical Global EMBA program now essentially has a global immersion session which involves experiential learning sessions in the US, Europe, China & India, South America, Middle East and Africa. However, these optional global immersion sessions may involve an additional cost apart form the regular fees.
The global immersion modules are obviously a positive learning experience for international students considering joining an executive management program, However, the benefits need to be considered in terms of the overall cost factor. World-class executive management programs are already far too expensive for an individual going it alone, but for corporate sponsored candidates, not only the Return on Investment (ROI) is a difficult parameter to assess for companies, but also the loyalty of the candidate they intend to sponsor at such a high cost. Of course, there are ways to inhibit sponsored candidates from leaving the company post the course completion, such as a bond, penal contract, or promise of higher incentives like promotions and salary hikes far above the standard industry level, but still it may be a risk taking decision for companies who are sponsoring employees for the executive management programs. Unlike the regular MBA programs for inexperienced students, the ROI cannot be measured directly for an executive management program. What can be assessed are the statistics derived from the authenticated performance of passed-out students which the B-schools need to provide on their website, so that the suitable executive management program can be pinpointed by companies for their sponsored candidates as per their internal requirements.
The question which arises now is how transparent are these Global B-Schools in providing such statistics. If they wish to target higher admissions in the future, they will essentially need to provide information on the following:
1- Minimum 3-year performance trend of their passed out executive level students, post completion of the course.
2- Promotion & Salary trends of their passed-out executive level students, post completion of the course.
3- Contact information of the executive level students and the company for confirmation/verification.
With the ready availability of the above mentioned inputs, it will definitely become easier for companies to select a B-School for sponsoring their employees for an executive level management program.
Accreditations are widely considered as hallmarks of quality. Many rankings systems require that schools are accredited in order to be eligible. To participate in the Financial Times’ MBA rankings, for example, schools need to be accredited by AACSB or EQUIS.
The Three Big Accreditation Bodies
There are three big international names in the world of business school accreditation: the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), the Association of MBAs (AMBA), and the European Foundation for Management Development’s (EFMD) Quality Improvement System (EQUIS).
Broadly speaking, the three accreditation agencies all do the same thing: assess a business schools’ quality. Gareth Howells, executive director of the MBA, Master’s in Finance, and Early Career Programs at London Business School (LBS), a triple-accredited organization, says that to review a school for accreditation is to “really get under that school’s skin.”
How does it work? LBS will send a ton of information on its programs and processes to the accreditation body. After reviewing the information, Gareth explains, the accreditation panel then spends up to a week at the school.
The panel is usually made up of representatives from other business schools as well as the accreditation body, and they conduct numerous meetings with people at every level of the organization—from board members to lecturers to students—as part of their assessment.
The oldest body in business school accreditation is AACSB, which was founded in 1916. They assess schools based on 15 ‘standards’ which cover everything about a program, from strategic management and innovation, to academic and professional engagement. Most of the top-ranked schools in the world carry an AACSB accreditation, including Harvard, Stanford, and MIT Sloan. AACSB is still a widely-trusted and respected accreditor of business schools, despite having lost official recognition from the Council for Higher Education Accreditation in 2016. An AACSB accreditation in business represents a positive evaluation of a “school’s mission, operations, faculty qualifications and contributions, programs, and other critical areas.” Schools are reevaluated every five years.
The second major business education accreditation body is AMBA. “AMBA is the only accreditation which is focused purely on the MBA itself,” explains Andy Vassallo, director of MBA programs at the University of East Anglia’s (UEA) AMBA-accredited Norwich Business School. The London-based Association of MBAs (AMBA) accredits MBA programs in around 70 countries. It judges the quality of a business school’s strategy, mission, faculty, students, curriculum, and assessment. By AMBA standards, for example, students admitted onto an AMBA-accredited program must have at least three years of work experience. Three quarters of a business school’s faculty must have a Masters or Doctoral degree in a relevant discipline. AMBA’s specific focus allows the accreditation body to dig further into the details of the MBA course, and AMBA has requirements which don’t appear on the more generalized accreditations’ lists of standards. For example, AMBA requires ‘substantial interaction between the faculty and the cohort group’—a requirement that generally disadvantages distance-learning programs. However, online MBAs can gain AMBA accreditation, as the University of Birmingham’s Online MBA proved when it became the first AMBA-accredited MBA of its kind in 2016.
The European Quality Improvement System (EQUIS) is run by the Brussels-based EFMD Management Development Network. Its main point of difference from the other two major accreditation bodies is in its emphasis on internationalization. EQUIS requires international diversity on both the governing and advisory boards of its accredited business schools. EQUIS also requires that schools have a strategy for international development and asks for proof that schools have allocated appropriate resources to achieve these goals. EQUIS evaluates a business school’s governance, strategy, programs, students, faculty, research and development, executive education, contribution to the community, resources and administration, internationalization, and corporate connections.
Accreditation allows schools to tap into a global network of quality business schools and leaders. It’s about a constant commitment to improvement, as accredited schools are fully audited by the accreditation bodies every three-to-four years. The value of an accreditation is that it will constantly scrutinize your processes and push you to become better.
In 2019, there were at least 90 business schools worldwide that were accredited by all three of the main international organizations—AMBA, EQUIS, and AACSB. This distinction is often referred to as the “triple crown”.
For students, accreditation from a reputable organization is one good way to check the quality of a business school. Accreditation organizations evaluate the quality standards of a business school’s teaching, faculty, services, and infrastructure, among other things.
Click on name to view program details
(in alphabetical order)